Nine comedians of varying levels of talent and success are summoned by the great Dustin Walker, legendary improv master and star of the “Help! I Married a Cat” franchise. None can resist for both personal and professional reasons, and when his comic intern reaches out with the invite, they all come to his island where they discover isolation and death, and a video message from their host, accusing them of crimes against comedy. Soon, they begin to get killed off one by one, and still cannot stop the jokes as they rush to find the killer or their own demise.
More below on Ten Dead Comedians: A Murder Mystery by Fred Van Lente.
A comedic twist on Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians, Ten Dead Comedians takes you there with very real yet unreal characters, whose fame (or lack thereof) make them all desperate for this “project.” The humor is crass at times, but mostly the quips are genuinely funny, creating that realistic joking through pain thing that seems to be the heart of the most successful comedians.
The ending really was surprising, with quite a few other surprises swirled into that surprise. I really liked that mixed in throughout the novel were the bits of each comedian.
I don’t often make remarks on the cover art of novels without the word graphic in front of them, but the design of this book (by Timothy O’Donnell) is quite clever with its bright colors and the chalk outline of a dead comedian strangled by his/her own microphone cord. The back blurb is delightful as well (see below).
I flew through this book, anxious to uncover the identity of the killer, and that is perhaps the highest recommendation I can give. I couldn’t put it down, even rereading the bits to try to get some clues to the mystery.
As the story opens, nine comedians of various acclaim are summoned to the island retreat of legendary Hollywood funnyman Dustin Walker. The group includes a former late-night TV host, a washed-up improv instructor, a ridiculously wealthy “blue collar” comic, and a past-her-prime Vegas icon. All nine arrive via boat to find that every building on the island is completely deserted. Marooned without cell phone service or wifi signals, they soon find themselves being murdered one by one. But who is doing the killing, and why?
A darkly clever take on Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None and other classics of the genre, Ten Dead Comedians is a marvel of literary ventriloquism, with hilarious comic monologues in the voice of every suspect. It’s also an ingeniously plotted puzzler with a twist you’ll never see coming!